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By: Saida Grundy

It can still be a boys’ club in academia, but social media is changing how and where Black women scholars can be heard. Long gone are the days when public scholarship was only available in the form of op-eds guest spots on cable news. An entire cohort of young Black women are rising through the academic ranks and they’re keeping the digital sphere abuzz with plenty to talk about. While taking on sexism, presidential policies, the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street and Herman Cain’s apparent *misunderstandings* of sexual harassment, these women challenge everything we think we know about what’s going on in this country.  They’re not afraid to ruffle some feathers while speaking the truth!

Salamishah Tillet @salamishah

This Harvard-trained historian-turned-English professor has been one of the most vocal voices on twitter regarding issues of rape, assault, and violence against women. In addition to writing for The Root and The Nation, she is the co-founder of A Long Walk Home, a non-profit organization that uses art therapy and the visual and performing arts to end violence against girls and women. Recently her writings on the SlutWalk anti-rape movement has gained national acclaim. A read through her timeline will show you how she continues to organize around issues of sexual violence and challenge communities of color to deal with the issue head on.

Melissa Harris Perry @MHarrisPerry

Perhaps twitter’s most known black female academic, she’s gone toe to toe with titans like Cornel West and Tavis Smiley over issues of Black politics. She’s got hudspah like that. This year Dr. Perry made the move from the ivory towers of Princeton to the halls of Tulane… and that NOLA swagger is definitely growing on her! You can watch Dr. Perry on news outlets such as MSNBC and read her in The Nation. You just might want to study up on her and do a little homework before she schools you in her @replies!

Megan Francis @meganfrancis

Fresh out the gates from the storied halls of Princeton, (where she was a student of @MHarrisPerry), Megan Francis is an upstart who’s making waves as a professor at Pepperdine Law. Maybe it’s the Malibu sunshine that keeps her timeline rolling between hard-hitting politics and the latest marathon she’s training for (and how said marathon training fit her into twitpicked Zac Posen dress, etc), but Dr. Francis definitely lights up any feed she’s on with energy and brilliance.

Imani Perry @imaniperry

Dr. Perry is brilliance personified. Some people are smart– but she’s THAT smart.  The finest institutions in the country pay big money to have this Harvard JD/PhD drop knowledge on their campuses, but she does it readily and consistently for free on twitter! We love how she keeps the conversations going with her followers and wonder how this mom, wife, and Princeton prof even gets the time most days.

Nikki Jones @socprofjones

Hailing from the best coast, Nikki Jones is one of sociology’s newest and sharpest gender and race scholars. Based at UC Santa Barbara, her work centers on various intersections of class, race, gender and she does it by getting out of the ivory tower and onto the frontlines of Black communities. You’re more likely to find her in the trenches with a video camera exposing how cops harass Black boys in San Francisco than having a beer with Obama in the White House. She’s a quieter tweeter, but definitely worth the follow.

Follow Saida Grundy on twitter @saigrundy

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